World Diabetes Day

world-diabetes-day-logo

Started by the International Diabetes Foundation back in 1991, World Diabetes Day was created in response to the growing concern about diabetes and about the health threats posed by the disease. Coincidentally, today is also the birthday of Frederick Banting who discovered insulin back in 1921.

Did you know that 29.1 million Americans (9.3% of the population) had diabetes in 2012 and those numbers continue to grow. Of those, approximately 1.25 million had Type 1 diabetes. One in two adults with diabetes are undiagnosed. It is of vital importance to screen for diabetes if you have any of the risk factors and screening is at the forefront of the World Diabetes Day campaign to ensure early diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes and to help reduce the serious complications that can arise from this disease.

So what is the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes? For those with Type 1 diabetes, the body’s immune system destroys the cells that release insulin, which eventually eliminates the production of insulin from the body completely. When a person does not have insult, cells cannot absorb sugar (glucose) which they need to produce energy. This type has often been called juvenile-onset or insulin-dependent diabetes. It accounts for somewhere between 5-10 in 100 people who have the disease.

In Type 2 diabetes, often called adult-onset or non-insulin dependent diabetes, this form of diabetes usually manifests during adulthood but can develop at any age. About 95 of 100 people with diabetes have Type 2. What this means is that a person’s body can no longer use insulin the right way which is also called insulin resistance. If Type 2 progresses and gets worse, a person’s pancreas makes less and less insulin, also called insulin deficiency.

The real difference between the two is that Type 1 diabetes is not preventable. You either have it or you don’t. Type 2 diabetes, can be prevented and/or reversed by eating heathy foods, exercising regularly and living a healthy lifestyle. The sad news about Type 2 diabetes is that more and more children are being diagnosed every year and much can be attributed to eating junk food in large amounts and having a mainly sedentary lifestyle. Time to focus people!

There are several similar consequences to having both types of diabetes and they all stem from possible complications from the disease. If diabetes is not managed on a daily basis, it can ultimately lead to blindness, kidney failure, heart disease, stroke and potential limb amputation.

It may be natural to think that you must stop eating all forms of sugar when you have diabetes or to prevent diabetes but that is not the case. You have to be smart about how much sugar you take in each day and what kind of sugar you are eating.

Here are some foods to fill up on:

Healthy fats from raw nuts, olive oil, fish oils, flax seeds, whole milk dairy, or avocados

Fruits and vegetables—ideally fresh, the more colorful the better; whole fruit rather than juices

High-fiber cereals and breads made from whole grains or legumes

Fish and shellfish, organic, free-range chicken or turkey

High-quality protein such as eggs, beans, milk, cheese, and unsweetened yogurt

Here are foods to eat less of or to avoid:

Trans-fats from partially hydrogenated or deep-fried foods

Packaged and fast foods, especially those high in sugar, baked goods, sweets, chips, desserts

White bread, sugary cereals, refined pastas or rice

Processed meat and red meat from animals fed with antibiotics, growth hormones, and GMO feed

Low-fat products that have replaced fat with added sugar, such as fat-free yogurt

It is also important to pay attention to the Glycemic Index (GI) of particular foods. Wikipedia defines the Glycemic Index as:

The glycemic index or glycaemic index (GI) is a number associated with a particular type of food that indicates the food’s effect on a person’s blood glucose (also called blood sugar) level. A value of 100 represents the standard, an equivalent amount of pure glucose.[1]

The GI represents the total rise in a person’s blood sugar level following consumption of the food; it may or may not represent the rapidity of the rise in blood sugar. The steepness of the rise can be influenced by a number of other factors, such as the quantity of fat eaten with the food. The GI is useful for understanding how the body breaks down carbohydrates[2] and only takes into account the available carbohydrate (total carbohydrate minus fiber) in a food. Although the food may contain fats and other components that contribute to the total rise in blood sugar, these effects are not reflected in the GI.

A good dietary guidelines to follow may include the Mediterraean Diet and those close to that. If you would like more information on how to eat to either reverse or prevent diabetes, contact me at 832-777-6669 or heidismith@integrativewellnessstudio.net and I will create a customized program to meet your goals and needs.

International Day of the Girl – October 11, 2016

day-of-the-girl

Today is the International Day of the Girl and, in light of recent comments made by one of our presidential candidates (I cannot even put his name into writing today) this movement should be of utmost importance to girls around the world and to those who are their mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers.

Here is an excerpt from the Day of the Girl website about the movement and what it is about.

“Empowerment of and investment in girls are key in breaking the cycle of discrimination and violence and in promoting and protecting the full and effective enjoyment of their human rights”

-United Nations Resolution 66/170

In 2011, as the result of youth advocacy around the world, the United Nations declared October 11 as the International Day of the Girl Child. Its mission is “to help galvanize worldwide enthusiasm for goals to better girls’ lives, providing an opportunity for them to show leadership and reach their full potential.” It’s a day when activist groups come together under the same goal to highlight, discuss, and take action to advance rights and opportunities for girls everywhere.

Day of the Girl-US is the United States branch of this global movement. We are an 100% youth-led movement fighting for gender justice and youth rights. Our work to dismantle the patriarchy and fight for social justice is rooted in girl-led activism across the country, using October 11th as a day of national action.

October 11 is not just a day; it’s a movement.

A worldwide revolution.

We want ourselves, and girls everywhere, to be seen as equals, in the eyes of others and in our own eyes.

My hope is that girls around the world will not only be seen as equals but that they will be support and encouraged to live their dreams, have goals, be educated, feel safe and not have to worry about being chastised, ridiculed, looked down upon, held back, made to feel bad about themselves, neglected or abused.

My hope is that girls around the world will be held up, treated with respect, be taught to love themselves and others for who they are, be educated, nurtured, loved, encouraged, and reminded on a daily basis that they are as good as anyone else….that they shall all be equal.

Give Peace a Chance

peace-symbol

Today is the International Day of Peace. I cannot think of anything more appropriate or more necessary today than a reminder that we must all work together to achieve peace.

“It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

It is not just about peace overseas where there is unrest, it is not just about peace between police and those in the community, it also is about peace in our homes and our daily lives because that is where we learn the concept of peace.

I’m not sure how our society has gotten so far away from peace and civility toward one another. It took so many years and so many people who stood up for rights and for peace and we came close. We came close. Then something happened and our society has started to regress again. Black Americans should not ever be afraid to drive in their cars or walk through their neighborhoods with the fear of being shot for nothing. No American should ever live in that kind of fear!

Children in Aleppo should not have to worry about their home being blown up in the middle of the night or fear that they may wake to their parents being dead. No child should ever live in that kind of fear!

Women and children should not have to worry about being beaten by their husband/father because becomes he comes home and is angry about something. No human should ever live in that kind of fear!

“It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt’s words are so true. We ALL must believe in peace. We ALL must talk about peace. We ALL must work at finding peace. On this International Day of Peace, let’s practice, at least for one day, sharing peace with all of those we come in contact with today and spread the word of peace around the world.

Sleep Training Update

 

Hello, everyone!

Welcome back from the long Labor Day weekend! I hope you had a great holiday and enjoyed some fun and relaxation with friends and family.

So, I have completed ninsomnia sleep training coach helpow two weeks of the Shuti.com sleep program. This last week was the week I was required to manage sleep restriction and my sleep window was set from 12:10am until 5:30am. I never imagined just how hard it would be to stay up until after midnight every single night. It was particularly challenging because my husband goes to bed around 10pm and so I had to find things to do on my own every night and keep occupied until it was time to go to bed.

The program also emphasizes that the time you MAY go to bed is not necessarily the time you MUST go to sleep. They say that if you do not feel sleepy, do not go to bed until you do. It has been great as I have gotten some projects done for the holiday and am now working on a new crafting project and some new recipes for the blog. It’s a great time to dust the house and do some household chores that don’t make too much noise so my productivity level has increased during this past week because of my sleep restriction! Always looking for that silver lining.

Today began the next core of the Shuti.com program is called the Behaviors Core. This core talks about what kinds of behaviors your should be doing prior to your scheduled bed time. It includes things like no activity in the bedroom except for sleep and sex (no television, electronics or even reading); creating a bed time routine (taking the dogs out, turning off lights and on the alarm, brushing your teeth and taking a hot bath, etc. The program wants you to get into the habit of basically the same routine every night before bed to get your brain into the “sleep is coming” mode.

The interesting development is that, since my last post, I remembered that when we moved to Houston, my husband and I switched the side of the bed we had been sleeping on. Prior to moving, I slept on the left and after we moved to Texas, I slept on the right side to be closer to where our blind dog would need to go during the night to find water and potty pads. Since I am a light sleeper, I would hear him get up and would know if he needed help finding his way around the new house. A year later, I had still been sleeping on the right side of the bed. I thought it may be good to try going back to the left side of the bed to sleep again and, guess what, it has made a difference. I have been falling asleep faster and sleeping more soundly (in the time I do sleep) on my old side of the bed. This may be one of the culprits of my insomnia as well. That we will follow up on again later.

Also interesting is that we went out of town for the Labor Day weekend. We stayed in a darling B&B called the Fredericksburg Herb Farm in Texas Hill Country. It was a small, private cottage in an herb farm setting. Nice and dark at night and very quiet. The cottage and the most amazing bedding package and pillows that were to die for! I actually slept both nights we were there for at least 6 hours a night! That is the most I have slept in more than 6 months! I’m starting to see some patterns here that are helping me get a handle on the sleep issues.

insomnia sleep training help coach health

So, that is the update for this week. I am interested to start this new Behavior Core and will stick to my sleep restriction and a pre-sleep routine every day for the next week. We shall see what comes of it. In the meantime, if you are searching for some amazing bed pillow, check out Pacific Coast Pillows. Sleep well!

Gluten-Free/Allergy Free Bakery in Houston!

gluten free cupcake health coaching wellness celiac

I’m excited to share with you a great resource in the Houston area that I was not familiar with and the great news is that it is a bakery! How awesome is that?

Recently, there was a thread on our neighborhood Next Door app that and it was a lady looking to find a gluten free/allergy free bakery in the area for some children in her class who had allergies. She likes to celebrate each child’s birthday by brining in treats and needs to accommodate allergies that a couple of new children the class have. People were offering suggestions of local merchants who did gluten free cupcakes but not other allergies, and then Liberation Gluten Free Bakery came up!

Now, I am not a huge sweet eater, however, I occasionally like to bake something for either a meeting I’m going to or a party or family gathering I’m hosting at the house. I can usually make something that tastes ok but a baker I am not. Savory dishes are my deal but I am not patient enough to measure things properly as you need to when baking.

The owner of Liberation GF Bakery, Angela Winston, was kind enough to agree to talk with me today about how she started the bakery and why. Her start came from necessity as her son was diagnosed with allergies to dairy, soy and wheat. They discovered his allergies about 13 years ago as an infant when he was suffering with eczema, dermatitis and various infections.

gluten free cookies health coaching wellness celiac

I know how difficult it was to manage my diet when I was diagnosed with celiac so I can only imagine how much more challenging it is for a mom to manage their child’s condition at school, events or at a friend’s house. Angela mentioned an occasion when she and her son had gone to a friends house and her son was given a Ritz cracker and had a pretty significant reaction to it. An episode like that would certainly make you want to create your own treats to send along with him the next time he goes to visit a friend.

As she experimented with recipes and perfected them she decided to make a go of it by producing gluten free and allergy free items for others to enjoy as well and that was when Liberation GF Bakery was born about four years ago. She offers muffins, cookies, cupcakes and cakes that you can special order and tell her what allergens to avoid. Her menu list of items is expansive and includes things like Rich Chocolate Cake, Lemon Lavender and Hummingbird Cake. Delicious!

liberation wedding cake gluten free celiac wellness health coach

 

We talked about the challenges both children and adults can face when they have food allergies and I mentioned going to a local women’s group meeting and they serve refreshments and food at the meetings. For the first couple that I attended, there was literally nothing I could eat that was offered. I started to bring gluten free/dairy free muffins and they were a hit. Turned out that a few other ladies were also gluten free and/or dairy free and never really said anything so as not to be a bother. Angela said that sometimes “You feel you can’t eat well when you can’t have certain things and that is not the case.” She is totally right, especially now with places like Liberation GF Bakery who can do the baking for you. I’m lucky enough to be able to sample her goodies next month and cannot wait to try them.

So, if you are in the Houston area and need to find gluten free and/or allergy free baked goodies, contact Angela at www.liberationgfbakery.com. ENJOY!

Tired of being tired?!?!

It’s Monday morning, the start of a fun and exciting week for me (it’s my 2nd wedding anniversary and a long holiday weekend…bonus!) and I woke up this morning, again, feeling exhausted. Why? I am one of the roughly 60 million Americans who suffer with chronic insomnia. Makes me crazy because I want to enjoy this week and feel refreshed and excited to celebrate with my husband and enjoy a little road trip this weekend.

I’ve always been a light sleeper but in the last six months or so, my sleep patterns have been, well, dismal at best. I started tracking my sleep about two months ago and I am averaging between 3.5 and 4.5 hours of sleep per night. The average person my age should get between 7-9 hours of sleep (those 18-64 years of age). So, needless to say, I am nowhere near the recommended amount needed to function like a normal person each day. It has become a source of frustration and irritation and the more upset I get about not sleeping, the harder I find it to get to sleep. Sound familiar?

You may have heard or read about Arianna Huffington (founder of The Huffington Post and best-selling author) had an experience several years ago where she was burning the candle at both ends and was so exhausted that she passed out and fell, hitting her face on the desk and she broke her cheekbone. Pretty drastic. She then made it her mission to share with others the importance of sleep. She asserts, in her book, Sleep Revolution, that what the world needs is nothing short of a sleep revolution. Even more than that, she shows that it is not just vital for our health but it is also a critical part of being able to actually reach our goals and be successful…smart lady.

tired insomnia sleep training coach help

What makes me even more crazy about not sleeping is that I teach my clients that that very thing, that sleep is one of the most important things they can give their body to be healthy. I believe that in my heart of hearts, yet I cannot seem to get my own body to sleep the way it should. The effect that it has had on me is that I am always tired and fatigued, my cognitive function is not nearly as sharp or accurate as it normally is and it makes me a bit short-tempered and crabby which is really not like me.

Taking matters into my own health coaching hands, I set out to put in practice all of the holistic things I share with my clients to help them sleep. Make sure to have the atmosphere and temperature in your room set to be cool, wear a sleep mask to help keep the room dark, use a diffuser with lavender essential oils next to my bed to help induce relaxation, etc. Nothing for me has worked, until now.

After meeting with two sleep specialists here in Houston, I finally found one that got it. She talked with me for nearly an hour to determine what had been going on in my life that may have changed my sleep patterns. Together, we eliminated sleep apnea or any kind of obstructive disorder. We then determined that my issue is not being able to turn my brain off at night when it’s time to sleep. I am against taking any kind of sleep medications as a solution as they addictive and downright dangerous long-term. We’ll get into that more later.

A couple of weeks ago, I participated in a Sleep Summit with a plethora of experts in health, nutrition and sleep. I was curious as to why there were so many nutritional experts on the schedule, but now it all makes sense. Your sleep is directly related to, not only your environmental influences but also nutritional ones. Sleep will never be completely effective and beneficial unless both components are working together.

So, I am now participating in a program called Shuti.com. It is an online program for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. What is that you ask? Well, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a short-term, goal-oriented psychotherapy treatment that takes a hands-on, practical approach to problem-solving. Its goal is to change patterns of thinking or behavior that are behind people’s difficulties, and so change the way they feel. I was very excited to find a solution that does not include medications and one that I can do from my home.

sleep training insomnia health coach shuti

What does the program entail? Well, it is a six week course that helps to track your daily sleep with sleep diaries. Once a week of diaries is completed, it then analyzes the amount of sleep you average per night, what time you got in to bed, what time you fell asleep, how often/how long you woke up during the night and then what time you way up in the morning. The average number of hours of sleep you get that first week then determines your program for Week 2 which is to restrict sleep to the average number of hours from Week 1 and then use that to determine your time to bed and time to wake. For example, I averaged 5 hours per night in Week 1 and I wake up (normally and without an alarm) every morning at 5:30am. So, I now cannot go to sleep before 12:30am! Holy crap. The adjustment to stay up until 12:30am when I normally get into bed at 10:00pm is challenging but I am sticking with it.

sleep training insomnia shuti coach

The theory is that by limiting the time you spend in bed, you will train your brain to really sleep during those 5 hours instead of tossing and turning between 10:00pm and 12:30am trying to fall asleep. It’s an interesting theory and, over the course of the next six weeks, I will update you as to my progress and how the program works.

I wanted to share all of this with you as I know that so many people struggle with sleep and sleeping well. As I go through this process, I will share the different tips and tricks that I learn to help you and others learn to sleep better. You’ll learn about how gut health relates to better sleep, how environmental issues like proximity to electrical currents can impact your sleep and that the notion of sleep deprivation is a “badge of honor” proving to the world that you are working harder than anyone else really is counter-productive.

Please share your stories with me about your experience with sleep deprivation or insomnia. If I can provide any particular ideas or solutions for you, I’d love to be able to do so. For now, I am a student working toward a full night of sleep. Hopefully, in the not too distant future, I will graduate to an eight hour night of zzzz’s!

My Garbanzo Bean Obsession!

Foodie Friday, Gluten Free, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, Recipes, garbanzo beans

In my never ending search for healthy foods and snacks, I have discovered a new one that I am totally obsessed with….Chickpeas!

Chickpeas, also known as Garbanzo Beans are members of the legume family. Legumes also include beans, peanuts, soybeans (also one of my favorites) and lentils. Good news…garbanzo beans have some great health benefits when you consume them regularly and here is how you will benefit by eating them.

Garbanzos contain about 15 grams of protein and, since it is a legume, it is a great source of vegetarian-friendly protein! They are a source of incomplete protein though so you will want to eat them in addition to eating other proteins like nuts, whole grains, eggs and meat (if you are not vegetarian) so your body will get enough amino acids to feed your body’s tissues properly.

Also good for colon health, garbanzos have a good amount of dietary fiber. This is important because it will help to control your blood sugar level, it helps to slow down digestion and helps to keep you regular. I like the fact that it helps to control blood sugar levels since I was recently diagnosed as pre-diabetic and look for all of the foods that won’t give me a big blood sugar spike. A cup of cooked garbanzo beans will give you about 12.5 grams of fiber which is half of the recommended daily intake for women.

Good for both brain health, protection against genetic mutations that may cause cancer development and helpful for bone development, these little nuggets are loaded with both folate and manganese. Manganese is also important to maintain your metabolism as it carries out a chemical reaction that is an essential part of the metabolic process. Folate, also known as vitamin B9, helps with new cell growth and is an important component for pregnant women for healthy baby development.

Garbanzos are versatile as well. If you don’t want to mess with soaking them and cooking them yourselves, you can find them canned and they are easy to then sprinkle onto a salad, incorporate into Indian dishes like Chana Masala or put them into some soup. What I did for today’s post was make a crunch snack out of them.

Foodie Friday, Gluten Free, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, Recipes, garbanzo beans

Crunchy Garbanzos
4 cups of dried chickpeas
2 tablespoons of fine sea salt
2 tablespoons of cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon of Mrs. Dash Southwest Chipotle seasoning
3 tablespoons of olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Soak the garbanzo beans in cool water overnight. Drain and rinse them then add to a pot full of water. Bring water and beans to a boil and then reduce to simmer and cover. Let cook for 2 hours. Drain the beans and put into a mixing bowl. Drizzle the olive oil over the beans. Take all the seasonings and mix them together in a separate bowl. Sprinkle the seasoning mix over the beans to your desired seasoning level. Spread onto a cookie sheet and bake in the oven at 350 for about 30 minutes. Stir them up and turn them over so they will cook evenly. Increase the temperature to 400 degrees and bake for another 45 minutes or until they start to get a nice crunch to them. Remove from the oven and let them cool. Store in an airtight container.

Eat them as they are for a great snack or sprinkle them onto a salad! You have a healthy, crunchy, spicy snack that provides great flavor and energy. ENJOY!

Chinese Corn and Mushroom Soup – Gluten Free

Chinese Corn and Mushroom Soup Gluten Free recipe

So last night, I was in the mood for a light and delicious dinner and was kind of crazy Chinese food but was way to lazy to go and pick it up (our neighborhood has NO delivery food service, can you believe it?) I know, it is weird.

So, I took at look at what I had in the fridge and pantry and decided on Chinese Corn and Mushroom Soup!
It was flavorful and comforting but still light enough for a hot summer evening. I hope you will try the recipe and let me know how you like it!

Chinese Corn, Shrimp and Mushroom Soup

6 cups low-sodium organic beef broth
1/2 pound of large shrimp (de-veined, and peeled)
1 large can of Chinese baby corn nuggets (or regular and just cut up yourself)
1 large can of straw mushrooms
1 can of diced water chestnut
1 bundle of asian rice noodles (I used the Haiku brand and the bundle is about 38g)
1 tablespoon of minced ginger (I like a lot of ginger but you can use a teaspoon and be fine)
1/4 cup of Tamari
1/4 cup of GF Mongolian BBQ sauce
1 tablespoon of siracha sauce
1 bunch of scallions (use white and light green diced small and add to pot) greens for garnish

Bring the broth to a boil. Add in the corn, mushrooms, scallions and water chestnut to the broth. Add in the ginger, Tamari, BBQ sauce and siracha and stir until well mixed. Reduce heat to medium and add in the noodles. Allow the noodles to cook in the broth for approximately 3 minutes or until they are tender. At the same time you add in the noodles, add in the shrimp. Taste and decide if you need to add any salt or more Tamari or siracha…totally depends on your palate.

Gluten and dairy free recipe rice noodles

Sprinkle the green diced scallion on top of the soup when you serve it. (I took the photo before I put the scallions on which is why you don’t see them…sorry!)

If you want the soup to be a bit more hearty, you can add in some firm tofu or if you don’t like shrimp you can substitute chicken or cup up pieces of fish. I would cook those ahead of time and just add in at the end to warm them up. ENJOY!

National Grab Some Nuts Day

Mixed nuts

Today we celebrate National Grab Some Nuts Day! It is a cute little holiday that no one is really sure of its origin. So, we will just go with the fact that nuts are good for you so, why not grab some for a great afternoon snack?

I love nuts and usually have some kind of nuts sitting at my desk when I feel a bit hungry but do not want to eat a full meal. Today’s nut of choice is the Blue Diamond smoked almonds! I know, they have a lot of salt on them, but i don’t eat that much sodium throughout the day so the small handful that I have of nuts won’t be harmful.

Here are some health benefits of nuts:
* Packed with protein
* Rich in unsaturated fatty acids (good for your heart – lowers the “bad” cholesterol)
* High in Omega-3 fatty acids
* High in fiber, vitamin E, plant sterols and L-arginine (makes arteries flexible and helps them to
be less prone to developing blood clots)

Nuts are relatively inexpensive and easy to pack and take with you anywhere.

Some nut are a little better for you than others. A good portion size is a small handful or about 1 1/2 ounces of nuts or 2 tablespoons of nut butter. Roasted chestnuts have the least amount of fat at 0.6 grams and dry roasted macadamia nuts have the highest at 21.6 grams. Try some of the nuts in the middle of the road like cashews, almonds and pistachios…all somewhere between 12-15 grams of fat.

nut-butter

Want to make a super easy nut butter? Here is how you do it.

1 cup of toasted almonds
2 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon of honey
Dash of cayenne pepper

Pop the almonds in a food processor. Process on high until the ground almonds begin to form a dough-like ball. Don’t be alarmed if your food processor gets overheated. When it seems like your processor may be getting taxed, stop for a few minutes and then begin again. Slowly drizzle the oil over the almonds and then add the honey and cayenne pepper. Continue the process, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed. If you do not want the honey and pepper, you can leave them out. If you need a bit more oil, drizzle in a little more until you get a nice smooth consistency.

Store it in an airtight container and I put mine into the fridge to keep it a bit longer. It is best when eaten within a week. Great to dip with apples or celery and also nice on a rice cake or some gluten free bread! You can follow the same recipe and process with many kinds of nuts so experiment and see which one you like best. ENJOY

Celebrate National Girlfriends Day!

Relationship and Life Coaching Houston Humble Texas TX

“I don’t know what I would have done so many times in my life if I hadn’t had my girlfriends. They have literally gotten me up out of bed, taken my clothes off, put me in the shower, dressed me, said, ‘Hey, you can do this,’ put my high heels on and pushed me out the door!” — Reese Witherspoon

Today is one of those days that is so much fun to celebrate and I only wish that I was in Chicago right now to be able to spend time with my best girlfriends to celebrate!

Although this day is not a “real” holiday but more of a holiday generated by social media, it is still a great excuse to celebrate all of the women we love and those who get you through the best and worst times in your life.

The quote from Reese Witherspoon resonated with me as I have seen some challenges in my life and it has been my girlfriends (and some of my best guy friends) who have pulled me out of the darkness and back to reality. Most of the time with a stiff martini or a shopping spree but always with lots of love and support.

Did you know that having great girl friends in your life can actually help to relieve stress, boost your self-esteem and even help you to live longer? Having those kind of strong relationships with other women can provide you with supportive, nurturing and empathetic love. When you are lonely, you are more at risk for developing health issues and things that can turn into serious illness with prolonged loneliness. Having the support and love of your gal pals can make you feel happy, loved and fulfilled which helps to strengthen your body and soul and keeps you healthier.

I have been so blessed over the years to have great girlfriends in my life. Some I have known for more than 20 years and some are new in my life. All are relationships that I cherish and you know, there are some friendships that just pick up where they left off even when you don’t see each other for years.

So go out today and call your girlfriends, send them an email or, better yet, schedule happy hour and celebrate all of the bests in your life!